Accessory After the Fact

Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 195.030 outlines the criminal liability for an “Accessory After the Fact.” See NRS 195.030

Accessory After the Fact

In order for a person to be found guilty of being an accessory after the fact, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the State at Trial:

  1. The accused harbored a suspected offender after the offender allegedly committed a felony or a gross misdemeanor.
  2. The accused aided a suspected offender after the offender allegedly committed a felony or a gross misdemeanor.
  3. The intent was to help the suspected offender avoid arrest, trial, conviction or punishment for the crime.

In Nevada, there are more than one type of people involved in a crime. The first is the principal, who is accused of actually committing or carrying out the crime. An accessory is a person who helps aid the principal offender after the principal offender committed a crime.

A person who is related to the principal offender, such as being the spouse, parent, or sibling of the offender, cannot be charged as an accessory.

Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Aiding and Abetting – NRS 195.020
  2. Carjacking – NRS 205.228
  3. Felony Murder - NRS 200.030
  4. Conspiracy – NRS 199.480
  5. Kidnapping – NRS 200.310
Examples of Accessory after the Fact

L’s best friend, Q, came to her and stated that she had just stabbed her ex-boyfriend. L helped Q clean up the crime scene and disposed of the knife. After this was done, L paid for Q to fly out of Las Vegas. Under this circumstance, L could be charged as an accessory after the fact.

Defenses to Accessory After the Fact

It is important to remember that when a person is charged as an accessory after the fact, they are merely being accused of helping the suspected principal offender. To be convicted, the prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury at Trial. With an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you, this often will not be an easy task for the prosecution to accomplish.

One defense that can be used against an accessory after the fact charge is that the defendant (the person arrested for being an accessory) did not know a crime occurred. If the accused had no idea that the suspected offender committed a crime, there was no way that they could be aware they were harboring, helping, or concealing a suspected criminal. If this is the case, then the charge of being an accessory after the fact could be dismissed entirely or the person accused can prevail at Trial.

If the defendant was just a bystander, they have no liability to be an accessory after the fact. In Nevada, it is not a crime to witness a crime and do nothing to report it, unless the bystander has a legal duty to report it because of their occupation. If the defendant simply witnessed the event, and did not take any action to help the alleged criminal escape or get away with the crime, then they will not be convicted of an accessory after the fact charge. Another defense to the allegation of being an accessory to a crime is when the person accused is a relative of the principal actor. Under Nevada law, in NRS 195.030(2) spouses, domestic partners, brothers/sisters, parents, children and grandparents/grandchildren cannot be charged as an accessory. Often, the police or the prosecution overlook a family connection and file charges. This is an absolute defense under the law in Nevada.

Lastly, if the defendant was threatened with imminent or serious harm by the principal offender, the accessory charge will not be able to stand in a Court of Law. It may be possible that the defendant acted the way he/she did to help the principal offender because they were under duress and afraid for what would happen to them if they did not help. If this is the case, the accessory after the fact charge will be dropped or a valid defense can be presented at Trial.

Potential Penalty for Accessory After the Fact

If a person is convicted of being an accessory after the fact, their punishment will depend on whether or not the defendant was an accessory to a felony or a gross misdemeanor offense.

A person found guilty of acting as an accessory after the fact to a felony crime will be punished by a category “C” felony. This punishment includes the potential of spending up to five years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and paying a fine of $10,000.

If the defendant is found guilty of helping a person who committed a gross misdemeanor, after the fact, then they will face the penalties of a misdemeanor offense. The penalty for this charge is spending up to six months in jail and spending $500 in fines.

Criminal Defense for Accessory After the Fact

It can be a very scary experience to be arrested and charged with a crime. Oftentimes people accused of being an accessory to a crime are not criminals and find themselves in a difficult or scary situation by the actions of another person. It is best to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to help you navigate your case. Criminal defense attorney Josh Tomsheck is a Board Certified criminal law specialist and former Chief Deputy District Attorney and will be able to discuss your case with you, review the evidence, and prepare the best defense possible to get the charges against you reduced, or completely dismissed.

For more information about the charge and defense of accessory after the fact in Las Vegas, call the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck right away to schedule your free consultation. (702) 895-6760.

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